Living your best life

How one simple word can change your life

October 1, 2018
Posted by Karen Strang Allen

As a coach, I often work with clients who are going through difficult times in their lives. Whether it’s a break-up or divorce, a sudden career change, or a full-on mid-life crisis, change often doesn’t seem like a good thing. At least at first.

But I’ve come to trust in the mysterious ways of the Universe, both personally and professionally. I know that there are blessings in every challenge, and that life is often steering us in a direction we can’t yet see.

I also know that, even when life is at its most difficult, and it feels like we’re going to break into a million pieces, there are still good things to be grateful for.

And it’s this ability to say “thanks,” even when times are tough, that will shift your energy higher and help you begin to attract more good things.

How gratitude changed my life

When I was 22, my husband and soulmate Blair passed away from liver cancer, less than 3 months after his diagnosis and 6 weeks after our wedding. I was devastated – I had lost the amazing man I was planning on spending my life with.

The same year, I moved to Ottawa to pursue a Masters in Journalism, 3,500 kilometres from my home and everyone I knew. I slid into a deep depression, and seriously considered dropping out of school. I had no energy, no motivation, and just wanted to stay in bed all day.

I called a former university professor, and told him of my struggles. He recommended that I “look for the silver lining in every day.” So I started a gratitude journal, and before I went to bed each night, I wrote down three things that were good about that day and my life overall.

At first it was hard to find three things to be grateful for. But gradually, it got easier and easier. I even started to see the many wonderful things I had in my life that I had been taking for granted:

  • heat and lighting
  • clean water
  • food to fill my belly
  • a safe place to live, in a safe country
  • a beautiful city
  • friends who cared about me
  • a scholarship that allowed me to pursue a higher education

And slowly but surely, my depression began to lift. I started enjoying life more, and spending more time doing things I loved. I met new friends, and got a great job. My life really turned around in just over a year, and I credit doing gratitude journaling (and some great counselling) as the main reason why.

Why gratitude helps (hint: it’s all about focus)

When times are tough, it’s so very easy to focus on what is going wrong. The problem is, when we focus on the negatives, we feel bad, our mood and energy drops, and our energetic vibration plummets. We feel like crap, and so we continue to attract crappy people and situations to us. We get stuck in a vicious loop.

But if instead, we can shift our focus to what is already good in our lives, and feel grateful for those people/things, we’ll feel our mood lifting. Our energy will start to rise, which will motivate us to take action, and help us to attract better people and situations into our lives.

Looking at it from another angle…don’t we all love it when someone shows us appreciation? Doesn’t it make us want to do MORE to help? Similarly, when you say thanks to the people who ARE there for you (instead of focusing on the ones who aren’t), it makes them feel good, and causes them to want to continue to support you.

Energy goes where our attention flows, and what we focus on expands.

So if you want things to change for the better, focus on what’s good in your life. Show appreciation to the people who love you and tell them you how much you value them. And as your mood lifts, watch the world around you begin to shift.

Wishing you a joyful and love-filled Thanksgiving holiday.

Share your thoughts!

I’d love to hear from you…please share your ideas and insights below.


  1. Lynne M

    Thank you Karen! this is really good and reminds me of a lot of things.I have been thru lots of struggles since marriage divorce , death of my husband and being a single parent since my daughter who is the the third among my children is four at that time my son 8 and my oldest at 15. Faith , strong positive thinking and gratitude each day is what gets e going all those years. Now that they are grown have their own jobs and partners I can see how they have seen me is shown on how they lead their lives. Never get frazzled with crisis , or failures they just go on though they always find me as support system for them in all these growing up years and now. We still have struggles and crisis even after.. since we came to the country 19 years ago but as I always say to them be strong and whenever there is storm sun will always show up!
    I always like reading and joining groups with women and hearing all the stories always remind me that my life is not bad as there are others who are far worse than me but survived!!Right! Having the right partner is not yet with me yet , i have tried but always fall into most narcisstic person all the time.. so when I hear about you… i said yes maybe its about time to end what is wrong and start something right!.
    Thanks and happy thanksgiving to you . May you and family be blessed with all the joys that this life could offer. Sincerely Lynne

  2. Mona Parent

    Thank You for sharing your story… I lost my job unexpectedly last month… it was such a blow… I love working with children not having any of my own nor a partner I felt lost…
    But I spent time back home with my family… then with a trusted friend in a city I loved… she offered me her spare room while I getting back on my feet.
    And every night I said what I was grateful for…
    I found a great home for my dog out in the country… and when I travelled from my father’s to my friend ‘s to live I saw a rainbow about halfway there… I stopped many along the way and just kept taking pictures… I did not realize but the double rainbow kept moving closer to the highway… and then just before I go to the city… the rainbow spanned from one side of the highway to the other and…
    I drove through it… it was the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me… simply ahhh inspiring…
    I still can hardly believe it!
    I know I am in the right place… I still am behind in many bill’s and although I am on call only so far at a daycare that I love… I am still looking for creative ways to earn more money as I desperately want to take my Early Childhood Education diplomat on-line while working… if I can just get started… the government reimburses as you pass you courses… it will come I am sure…
    I just finished a lovely Thanks Giving dinner with my wonderful friend… I will see my family in a few weeks to celebrate with my brothers who will be home then…
    And there is a wonderful friend of mine who is fast becoming my best friend ever… so I am surrounded by love… which in the end is the MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL…
    When things are going good we often forget to be grateful for what we have… Years ago I used to live on a beach… I had forgotten so I carried a rock on each coat pocket to remind myself how fortunate I was… That beach front is no longer mine… but I still carry a rock in my pocket… and often I will tell my story and give the rock away…
    People are always grateful to receive it…
    It always makes me smile…

    • silverliningsblog

      Hi Mona. I’m so sorry you lost your job, but do believe when things like this happen, we’re being redirected to something even better. Your story is inspirational, and I love the idea about the rock in your pocket!! I know good things are on their way to you… <3

  3. pat hamilton

    Happy thanksgiving Karen beautiful words from a beautiful person !

  4. shewrite63

    Thank you for your words and reminder about the benefits of feeling, welcoming gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  5. Danielle

    Gratitude is magical!



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About the author

Karen Strang Allen

Karen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. 

Learn More about Karen